A Message to Open-source Anonymous Users: It's time to give something back (Feedback)

One day ago, I was part of a rich discussion about open-source with a team of open-source veterans of GNU Health. I ask how many active installs does the project have?

The answer was similar to the same one we get from a popular enterprise project management solution ]project-open['s  founder "Frank Bergmann". The answer is:

"There is no clear insights or data about how many companies use the project".

Many open-source users consider the solution is free. Free like in free beer, with no obligations or responsibilities.

That may be right in some cases, but ethically it's not. The developers need to know how well their solution is doing, and the end-user is required to give something back, not money but useful feedback and insights.

In some countries I have been to, I noticed many companies, healthcare facilities are using enterprise open-source solutions.

These open-source solutions include electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR), HIS (Hospital Information Systems), Laboratory management systems, ERPs, CRMs, etc.

However, the founders and developers have no idea about these anonymous quite users.

Most of the open-source founders are not waiting much, they will not charge those anonymous users for installs or updates. So, why these users don't care to inform the software author about their impression with constrictive feedback.

In the end, the developers will have no clear idea about the usage until some users require support or face an issue.

Why is feedback important?

  1. Providing useful insights about the usage
  2. Ideas: users are frequently having their own custom workflow, and their ideas.
  3. Helps to improve the software
  4. Many feedbacks come with features request and recommendations
  5. Motivation, Number of users is a good motivation for open-source developers to continue their work.
  6. Feedback will help the developers to focus the product development. Providing feedback you may get better software in some time, for free.

Feedback will ensure the solution is getting enough insights that help improving it, which ensure its continuity.

Fortunately, some users provide feedback and contribute back to the community, though it's not enough in many cases and some may say it's a start, but comparing their numbers with the salient users that are discovered only when they face problems can explain why.

However, many open-source solutions don't have the tools or resources to build communities.

If you happened to be one of these salient open-source solution consumers, please consider providing your feedback or at least notify the authors with your installation and usage.

Photo by Alex Kozlov from Pexels

Thanks to Frank Bergmann for edits and GNU Health Team for the discussion.

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